College Basketball Nation: Buffalo Bulls

More observations from Saturday’s evening slate:

  1. Welcome to the SEC title conversation, Ole Miss: Andy Kennedy’s program was an enigma as SEC play began. The Rebels’ numbers have been impressive (83.7 points per game, top 40 in Ken Pomeroy’s offensive and defensive efficiency ratings) all season. But their nonconference strength of schedule was so mediocre (242nd, per ESPN.com’s RPI) that it was difficult to know if those stats were valid indicators of their potential. Losses to Middle Tennessee State and Indiana State only complicated the assessment process. But Saturday’s 64-49 home victory over No. 10 Missouri was a statement victory for the program. The Rebels are legit. Yes, Laurence Bowers’ absence (knee injury) affected the Tigers, but they lost because Ole Miss’ defense pressured them into costly mistakes (19 turnovers, 2-for-18 from beyond the arc and a season-low 49 points). And they couldn’t stop Murphy Holloway (22 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and a block). Ole Miss is officially an SEC contender.
  2. Colorado State overcomes 18-point halftime deficit in overtime thriller: I know No. 16 San Diego State’s 79-72 overtime victory over Colorado State says a lot about its standing in the Mountain West. It’s tough to argue that the Aztecs aren’t the best team in this deep league. They have one of the best defenses in the country (22nd in Pomeroy’s ratings). Plus, Jamaal Franklin leads SDSU’s talented and versatile offense. But I loved this game because of the heart that the Rams showcased. Colorado State was down 41-23 at halftime in this matchup. Colton Iverson (18 points, 11 rebounds and 2 blocks), however, helped his team close the gap in the second half. He sent this one into overtime with a putback in the final seconds. CSU’s surge was more evidence of the depth in the MWC. And I actually thought this was the game of the day. So much action. Such an amazing comeback.
  3. [+] EnlargeChase Tapley
    Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsChase Tapley scored 12 of his 19 in overtime as San Diego State beat back Colorado State's charge.
  4. Arizona bounces back: I’m not saying this would have changed the outcome, but I’m disappointed that Oregon State’s Eric Moreland (10.8 ppg, 11.1 rpg and 2.7 bpg) did not participate due to a suspension. But I still give the No. 4 Wildcats credit for their 80-70 win in Corvallis, two days after they’d suffered their first loss of the year at Oregon on Thursday. Arizona was not flawless (16 turnovers), but it was too good (47.5 percent from the field) for Craig Robinson’s program, an average Pac-12 team at best. Mark Lyons (16 points) helped the Wildcats put together a performance that should help them put the Oregon loss behind them. Next up: Arizona State and then UCLA, two of the Pac-12's top teams.
  5. Temple wins, but Atlantic 10 still confusing: Before suffering a 64-54 loss at Temple, Saint Louis had won nine consecutive games. The Billikens were rolling entering the matchup, but Temple was aggressive in this crucial victory. Khalif Wyatt (24 points) led an Owls squad that shot 47.9 percent from the floor. Temple, however, lost to Xavier in its A-10 opener. And Saint Louis defeated UMass. So there’s still some confusion about the hierarchy in the Atlantic 10. I think Virginia Commonwealth and Butler are the two best teams in the conference, but what’s the order from there? I believe there are multiple teams in the league that could compete for the league title (VCU, Butler, Temple, Saint Louis, Saint Joseph’s). At this point, though, the sample size is too small to establish a true pecking order. The Owls certainly proved that they’re one of the best teams in the league with the win over the Billikens.
Other notes:

  • Leonard Washington (16 points, 13 rebounds) helped Wyoming rebound from its first loss of the season with a 59-48 victory at Nevada. The Cowboys were coming off a 63-61 loss to Boise State by way of a buzzer-beating 3-pointer on Wednesday.
  • I feel for Buffalo. The Bulls were down 54-33 to Miami (Ohio) before they launched a 24-2 run to take a 57-56 lead, but Allen Roberts’ free throws in the final seconds gave the Redhawks the 58-57 win. Heartbreaking for Buffalo.
  • Need more proof that the Mountain West is legit? Air Force nearly upset No. 24 UNLV in a 76-71 overtime loss in Las Vegas. This league is potent top to bottom.

ESPN.com's MAC preview

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
4:55
PM ET
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Mid-American Conference, here is Eamonn Brennan's quick wind sprint through the league:

video

For Myron Medcalf's look at the nonconference schedules at Akron and Ohio, click here. For Medcalf's look at Keno Davis resurfacing at Central Michigan, click here. And for Blue Ribbon's in-depth previews of all 12 MAC teams: Insider

Akron
Ball State
Bowling Green
Buffalo Insider Free
Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Kent State
Miami (OH)
Northern Illinois
Ohio
Toledo
Western Michigan

Tuesday recap: A first for Perry Jones III

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
11:40
AM ET
Player of the Night - Perry Jones III
For all of the hype surrounding Jones in his two years in Waco, he'd never had a 20-point, 10-rebound game. Until last night. He helped Baylor snap a two-game losing streak with a 77-65 win at Oklahoma. Jones finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Baylor had been 3-18 in Norman going into this one.

Breakout Game - Will Davis II
UC-Irvine freshman Will Davis II had a career game in a 78-67 win over Seattle. He came off the bench for 21 points (on 9-10 shooting from the field), 10 rebounds and five blocks. That's after entering the game averaging 7.4 PPG and 5.5 RPG. Davis joins Kentucky's Anthony Davis as the only freshman with a 20-10-5 game this season. The last freshman not named Davis to do it was Iowa's Melsahn Basabe last season.

Dime Store - Jarod Oldham
Jarod Oldham is the Kendall Marshall of the MAC. On Tuesday, he handed out 10 assists while not connecting on a field goal of his own as Buffalo won its third straight with a 65-47 win over Eastern Michigan. Oldham now has 27 more assists than points this season. He even has seven more steals than field goals.

Ugly Stat Line of the Night - J'Covan Brown
The good news for Texas? The Longhorns beat Iowa State, 62-55. The bad news? J'Covan Brown went 3-for-16 from the field with five turnovers. Over the past three games, Brown has a 25.7 field goal percentage. That includes 22.0 percent from two-point range.

Filling Up the Stat Sheet – Royce White
On the other side of that matchup, Royce White had 15 points, 15 rebounds and five assists for Iowa State. The only other Big 12 players with a 15-15-5 game over the past four seasons? Alec Burks and Blake Griffin. Of course, White also went 1-for-7 from the free throw line. That was particularly costly in a game decided by seven points.

3-point shot: Ole Miss on upswing

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
5:00
AM ET
1. Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy has had a hard time catching breaks since he arrived in Oxford. The Rebels have dealt with injuries, defections and early-entrants and an inability to be consistent enough to be an NCAA tournament team. Whether or not Ole Miss can get there in 2012 is still to be determined. But the Rebels finally closed out a game in a frenetic situation as they beat DePaul on the road on a Murphy Holloway layup. Holloway, who played at Ole Miss, transferred to South Carolina and then came back, had committed a silly foul the previous possession before coming up with a decisive steal and layup. The Rebels got blitzed by 30 by Marquette in the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands but did finish off Miami in overtime last week. DePaul may be in the bottom fourth of the Big East but the win will still do wonders for the Rebels’ confidence. “It’s the first road win versus a Big East opponent ever in Ole Miss basketball history,’’ said Kennedy late Thursday night of a random fact that seems hard to digest. “Sometimes you’ve got to win ugly.’’ The Rebels aren’t going to be better than Kentucky, Florida, Vanderbilt or likely Mississippi State or Alabama. But can Ole Miss be more productive than Tennessee or Arkansas or Auburn? This squad has a shot to be a top-six SEC team.

2. The Colonial Athletic Association has been disappointing through the first month of the season. Drexel (2-3) was the preseason favorite but the Dragons haven’t been completely healthy and don’t have a quality win. Other contenders like George Mason, VCU and Old Dominion have either not had their full complement of players or simply are rebuilding and aren’t ready to win elite games. The best win by the CAA so far may be Northeastern’s victory at St. John’s, hardly a NCAA-bound victory since the Red Storm are likely a lower-half Big East squad. “We don’t have that juggernaut team that stands out,’’ said ODU coach Blaine Taylor. “But once we get our people back, the same with Drexel, George Mason and you’ll see VCU play better than people will see how good the (CAA teams are). Our teams have been up and down that doesn’t mean in the long haul that we won’t have real good teams once we get to January and February.’’ The CAA had its second Final Four team in six seasons when VCU earned a bid last April.

3. The MAC last had multiple NCAA tournament teams in 1999 when Miami was a 10-seed and Kent State was an 11. The league once had a flurry of NBA-level-talented players who for whatever reason didn’t make it to the Big Ten. But the MAC slump has been going on for a dozen years. That is, possibly, until now. The MAC has already picked up significant wins: Akron at Mississippi State, Ohio at Marshall, Kent State at West Virginia, Miami and Buffalo beat Dayton (which won the Old Spice Classic). Bowling Green beat Temple. Will any of those wins get the MAC an at-large berth? Probably not. But the MAC is at least proving that it is no longer a weaker comparison to the Horizon League, the Missouri Valley or the Colonial.

ESPN.com's MAC preview

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
4:56
PM ET
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Mid-American Conference, here is Eamonn Brennan's quick wind sprint through the league:



Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all 12 teams in the MAC:

Akron
Ball State
Bowling Green
Buffalo
Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan
Kent State InsiderFree
Miami (Ohio)
Northern Illinois
Ohio
Toledo
Western Michigan

More MAC content:

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